In our efforts to develop a reliable product that would help organizations decrease their unplanned downtime and increase their return on human capital investment, we contacted countless organizations and interviewed their production supervisors, line workers, facilities and maintenance personnel, and managers. What we found is that although every organization is different, most are similar in two ways:
- They all want to decrease unplanned downtime
- They are all facing a shortage of skilled labor
While analyzing their pain and their current operations for dealing with downtime we found that they all face the same issues that lead to a similar root problem.
How do they solve unplanned downtime?
The current workflow is:
While waiting for the experts to arrive, this is where companies face the highest loss due to unplanned downtime. It could be hours or days before help arrives, and it is costly. Organizations spend anywhere from $5,000 to $200,000 a year for a service contract from their machinery providers.
The ideal solution for machine troubleshooting
But if the production line worker could have the ability to at least perform a quick diagnosis and troubleshoot machinery before or while waiting for the technicians to get there, the mean-time-to-repair (MTTR) would be significantly lower. Or how about the frontline worker actually solving the problem without having to call the technicians or experts? That would be SUPER!
Many production line workers are currently unable to solve a simple e-stop problem because of one or more of the following reasons: they’re not allowed to run diagnostic tests, they’re not allowed to troubleshoot equipment, they don’t have a specific certification, or the knowledge on how to troubleshoot equipment is not available to the worker.
This may sound repetitive but in our many interviews, it was painful to hear that there are so many simple problems that a front-line worker could solve if they had access to the right knowledge on how to do it (with an iPad).
Responding to Downtime Today
Our first advice to you is: make key knowledge accessible to your workers. This will help them learn new skills on the job and will increase your skilled labor.
With the technologies available today it is becoming easier and easier to almost predict when equipment will go down, and with preventative maintenance, organizations can actually act on downtime rather than react. If you think about it, unplanned downtime is not the actual cause of revenue loss, the biggest revenue loss happens when organizations are not prepared to deal with unplanned downtime. The following factors contribute to big losses when unplanned downtime happens;
- Lack of documentation.
- Inefficient training methods.
- Modifying your operations so that your line worker can troubleshoot machinery.
Our next blog post will address these 3 problems and gives you suggestions for actions you can take today, without spending money, to be prepared for unplanned downtime.